Irish Republican News · October 16, 2009
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
International fund ‘supports’ UDA, UVF

The International Fund for Ireland (IFI) has been accused of paying a six-figure to a group linked to loyalist paramilitaries, no questions asked.

Despite being named as having been consulted, it has emerged that a number of individuals and organisations cited by the group knew nothing about it.

Several said they only found out about ‘The Link’, which describes itself as a community organisation, long after it had been approved for funding by the IFI.

The group has said it “targets socially deprived housing estates in County Down, supports marginalised young people, women and the elderly, provides leadership training and mentoring, and forges cross-community links”.

One of the housing estates is Kilcooley in Bangor which was at the centre of a row earlier this month when loyalist paramilitary plinths were unveiled in a ‘garden of reflection’ funded by the British government.

British officials said the loyalist memorial had not been included in its funding and had been erected independently “shortly before the opening of the garden”.

‘The Link’ has admitted that the UVF, Red Hand Commando and UDA are “officially or unofficially represented” on its Ards forum.

The group said its forum meets to discuss “contentious community relations issues including bonfires, flags and territory marking, cross-border relations, sectarianism and racism, young people and paramilitaries, loyalist paramilitary transition in a post-conflict environment and cross-community relations

The IFI described itself as a philanthropic organisation rather than a public body. It says it has spent over a billion dollars on projects across Ireland with the aim of building reconciliation between communities.

It said that after concerns were raised by a number of the community groups “this issue was investigated by” the Community Relations Council and the IFI was satisfied the project was “viable”.

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© 2009 Irish Republican News